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Russian Figure Skater Zagitova Wins First Gold For OAR At Pyeongchang

Russia's Alina Zagitova
Russia's Alina Zagitova

Alina Zagitova secured a first gold medal for the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) team at the Pyeongchang games on February 23, edging out her team-mate Yevgenia Medvedeva in the women's figure-skating competition.

Zagitova, a 15-year-old skating phenomenon, and Medvedeva, 18, tied in the free-skating program in a rare occurrence. But Zagitova won the short program on February 21, giving her an edge over Medvedeva, who took the silver medal.

Russia was banned from the Pyeongchang games over widespread doping at the Sochi Games four years ago, but 168 Russians were allowed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to compete under the OAR designation and under the Olympic flag.

Bronze went to Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada, a winter sports powerhouse that has otherwise dominated the figure skating competition, easily winning the team gold medal in the event.

Before being eclipsed by her team-mate, Medvedeva seemed well on her way to Olympic gold as she went unbeaten in world competitions in the last two seasons. But she cracked a bone in her right foot this season at the same time Zagitova emerged as a formidable contender.

Within minutes of Medvedeva setting a new world record in the short program on February 21, Zagitova skated onto the ice and bested it. The difference in their short programs wound up being the margin of difference between gold and silver medals.

On February 23, Zagitova skated first and was greeted by loud chants and cheers from Russian fans eager to see a Russian athlete win a first gold at the games.

Zagitova skated a program largely free from mistakes, exhibiting fluidity and technical brilliance. She earned 156.65 points for her program, choreographed to music from the ballet "Don Quixote."

Medvedeva matched that score with her free skate, but fell 1.31 points lower in the overall rankings.

The International Olympic Committee last month barred Russia's Olympic Committee from leading a team at the games, allowing only 168 individual Russian athletes who proved they were clean of doping to enter the competition.

Based on AP and Reuters

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